Although it started rather humbly almost 35 years ago, the CMJ Festival here in New York has become one of the preeminent and important music festivals of the entire calendar year for independent artists and their labels, music industry folks, radio programmers, bloggers, journalists and unsigned artists. Annually careers and livelihoods are made (or broken) during a 5 day period in October, as countless acts are discovered and praised breathlessly, rejected – or far worse, considering the financial investment in coming to New York, ignored.
Still the week of CMJ is quite the experience if you cover and love music. Bands, industry insiders, bloggers and journalists spent that period running around between venues Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. As a blogger, it’s a thrilling, exciting and ultimately exhausting week of going between several different venues to catch and interview new and familiar bands, networking and meeting people, and catching up with old friends and colleagues. Just to give you a sense of one day at CMJ on the Saturday of CMJ I had been invited to five different showcases – three in Brooklyn, two in the Lower East Side – and a happy hour. And naturally, i couldn’t – and didn’t make all of that. It turned out to be impossible logistically but on to more important matters, right?
Some time ago, I had interviewed the Nashville, TN-based indie electro pop duo, Ugly Kids Club. At the time, they were releasing a six single series with accompanying videos and I had caught up with Steve Wilson and Aleigh Shields after the release of the second single of the series “Magical” which bore a resemblance to releases by Shiny Toy Guns.
Between then and now, the duo released the Head Games EP and the EP is a decided yet very natural change of sonic direction for the band, as the material on the effort possess a slick, synth pop, dance music sound. And the duo of Wilson and Shields have been supporting it with a short tour during the month of October that also included the seemingly prerequisite CMJ Festival stop in town.
I caught up with the duo after their MadHouse Management CMJ Showcase set at Arlene’s Grocery and talked about their new effort, the change in their writing process, the CMJ sets they were able to catch, the Nashville music scene and much more.
Photo credit: Jason Lee Denton